Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It is a fallacy to think that original design can only be achieved after years of training. -Constance Howard

I had some fun news in my email inbox this morning; I won the $20.00 Link-of-the-Week Giveaway from QuiltHome.com! Basically, if you put a link to the QuiltHome site on your blog they enter you into a giveaway to win a $20.00 store credit. Thanks so much to everyone at QuiltHome, I’m super-excited to get some new fabric! And the newsletter special for this week just happens to be Heather Bailey, who I absolutely adore, so I’m thinking that’s the way I’m going.
I also bought a lovely book this weekend. I read the whole thing on Sunday and can’t wait to get started on a new project. Maybe it’s fate that I won the QuiltHome giveaway and found this book, hmmm…This book is by Amy Karol who is really talented (you should read her blog, Angry Chicken, she is funny). This book has beautiful pictures, the instructions are simple and well planned, and the projects are all really cute and fun. I recommend it!

P.S. Heather Bailey also has a wonderful blog that you should check out: Hello My Name is Heather.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. -Eleanor Roosevelt

It’s been a little bit since I’ve posted. Almost everyday I think of things that I want to post about and I keep them all written down on a piece of paper on my desk. I’m going to try and get through mentioning at least a couple of these things today.
First off, the biggest news of all:

I got in to the Master’s program I applied to at the University of Toronto! That’s the University above; I also did my undergraduate here. I got into the Master of Information program, and the grand plan is to be a librarian. I may also take some courses from the archival stream as well; I find archives and collections very interesting (I also used to work at a museum here in the city). I’m super-excited and can’t wait for fall. I am also a little stressed and am worried about whether or not I’ll get a scholarship; I’ll find out in a few weeks or so. I’ll be leaving my job at the end of July, and then possibly going to a cottage in Quebec with Alex and his family for a couple of weeks.
I also wanted to post a picture of the pillow that Alex got me as part of my Valentine’s present; I just think it’s so gosh darn cute and kinda quirky. It’s from Urban Outfitters.

I had the pillow case(s) that you can see underneath for as long as I can remember. They’re really pretty, and have doves and ribbon and little flowers embroidered along the opening.
My Mum brought me my new (not actually new obviously, but new to me) sewing machine that my Grandmother gave me in February. It’s a Singer Stylist 513, and it is definitely better than my old clunker. It also has its case, which makes it easier to move around and less likely to get dusty. I realized after my Mum left that she had brought me the wrong manual for it, so she’s ordered one for me from the Singer website. They have a really neat system there – if they have an original copy of the manual they’ll send it to you. If they don’t have an original they send you a spiral bound facsimile. I think that’s pretty neat. Here’s my machine, she ain’t much to look at but I love her.

I’ve almost finished up Alex’s new owl; he’s been christened Hemingway (I even embroidered his name onto a piece of felt and attached it to his backside). I have so many ideas in my head of the things I’d like to sew and craft, but find it difficult sometimes after work to motivate myself because I’m just so darned tired. Hopefully I get Hemingway done soon; I feel kind of bad that he’s not done.
One of my best friend’s, Jenna, is getting married in July and I’m in the process of getting the materials I need for her wedding present. I can’t say what it is here, because I’m not sure if she’ll read this or not. I’ll post after the wedding though and let everyone know what it is.
I think I’ve finally got the fabric all together for Alex’s quilt (although I have no idea when I’m going to find the time to get it done). The center print is Alexander Henry’s Spotted Owl in white, and I think it will go very nicely with the yellow gingham, and green, white and blue plaid. He’s already seen all of the fabric, so this isn’t giving anything away (good plan: iron fabric).
Now onto books! I’ve read a few books since I last posted about them, except for the life of me I can’t remember what all of them were. It’s driving me a little crazy; I can only remember two. I know that I finished up Maeve Binchy’s Heart and Soul, which I had mentioned that I was reading last time. It was pure Maeve Binchy – no pretense, no soppiness, and I love how characters cross over between books (but you don’t have to have read the others to get the story; the stories are deeper if you have though).
The last book I finished was Alistair MacLeod’s collected short stories, Island. It was fantastic. I love the way that MacLeod writes, everything is real and harsh, but beautiful at the same time. He’s a born storyteller, and it was even better reading his work after hearing his voice and seeing him in person. I love his stories and I know that I’ll some back to them again and again.
Currently I’m reading three books. The first is one that I first read in the 4th grade (I believe) called Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. It’s super short, but so well written. A movie of it was made a few years back with Alexis Bledel (Rory from Gilmore Girls) as Winnie. I’ve been reading it before falling asleep every night (interspersed with doing the New York Times crossword with Alex). For light fun I’m reading The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie Jones, which is based on the premise that Jane Austen left memoirs which reveal a personal love story that was the inspiration for her novels. My heavier reading is centered on Elizabeth Waterston’s Rapt in Plaid: Canadian Literature and Scottish Tradition. Waterston has written a lot on L.M. Montgomery and that is how I first became interested in her other works. I will admit though that I started the book by reading the chapter on Montgomery and J.M. Barrie, and then went back and started from the beginning. I’m like that.
I’ve been mulling over ideas for the paper I want to submit for the 2010 L.M. Montgomery conference at the University of Prince Edward Island. The abstract is due in June, so I better get motoring. Alex and I did a little bit of research the other night and talked over some ideas; hopefully I’m on the right track.
That’s about it for now! Have a wonderful day everyone!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Recipe Box Swap: Tea Biscuits

I wanted to take part in the Recipe Box Swap this month and lucky me it was no-theme month so I got to choose whatever I wanted to share. This recipe comes from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, The Purity Cookbook. The edition I have is a 2001 reprint of the 1967 edition, but the cookbook has been around for a long time. The maker of Purity Flour, Western Canada Flour Mills Co., was founded in 1905 and I believe the first edition of the Purity Cookbook was released in 1917. I believe that you can still get the 2001 reprint and I highly recommend it.

A tea biscuit dough should be soft but not sticky. A little kneading improves the quality of the biscuits, but should be done with a gentle touch as too much handling tends to make them tough.

Tea Biscuits, BASIC RECIPE

Preheat oven to 450F
Blend or sift together
2 cups Pre-Sifted PURITY All-Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cut in finely
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
Stir with a fork to make a soft dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 8 to 10 times. Roll or pat to desired thickness, (biscuits will be doubled in height when baked). Cut out with a floured cutter.

Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet, close together for soft-sided biscuits or about 1″ apart for crusty-sided biscuits.
Bake in preheated 450F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
Yield: 18 to 20 - 1 3/4″ biscuits.

You have no idea how good these tea biscuits are. They may sound simple, or even bland, but they are really homey, cozy, and perfect. Also remember that since this is the basic recipe that you can add whatever you want (raisins, berries, cheese, etc) to change them up.

Follow this link to see who else is swapping this month: The Recipe Box Swap